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Hokies' defense slacks at Miami

Virginia Tech lost in a most unusual fashion on Sunday. The Hokies were doomed by their defense -- a team strength -- in the first half of its 82-75 defeat at Miami on Sunday.

“You can’t win a game on the road when you let people shoot 70 percent in the first half,” Coach Seth Greenberg said in a postgame radio interview. “And that’s just disgusting."

In the first half, the Hurricanes shot 70.7 from the field, including 62.5 percent from three-point range. To start the game, Miami ran out to a 16-11 lead thanks in part to three three-pointers in that stretch; those three-pointers were uncontested, catch-and-shoot buckets for Miami.

Entering the game, Virginia Tech was tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference lead in scoring defense (60.5 points per game). But by halftime on Sunday, they were in a 17-point hole. While the Hokies defended better in the second half, their first-half showing doomed them.

It was a startling display considering Virginia Tech had not only convincingly defeated Miami, 81-66, on Jan. 13, but it had stymied the Hurricanes with aggressive defense. In that game, Miami fell behind by 27 points at hafltime after being limited to 26.9 percent shooting from the field.

Since the fall, Greenberg has preached a defense-first mentality. All along, he said his team needed to form a defensive identity because it does not have the weapons to go basket-for-basket with other ACC programs.

Greenberg said Sunday's loss had nothing to do with his team's ability, although Miami is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the ACC. Rather, Greenberg said, it had to do with a lack of urgency on the defense end.

Virginia Tech did not get off to the start it needed thanks to its slacking defensive effort, and it could never recover.

By Mark Viera  |  February 1, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
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